What is a pilgrimage? A tour, trek, trip? Well, yes but not quite. A voyage, journey, excursion? That’s better … but still not a full enough description. A peregrinate? Wait. What? What is peregrinate? It means to travel or wander from place to place. OK, that’s getting closer but doesn’t include the purpose.
A pilgrimage is a spiritual discipline of devotion, often taken on a long journey to a specific location of significance. It requires the “pilgrim” to leave home, leave behind what I call “the dailies”, and take up a new road to a new place that will open opportunities for a deeper knowledge and love of God. Like Holy Yok-ah a pilgrimage requires the whole person to engage: heart, soul, mind, and body, and presses the pilgrim toward transformation, new life.
My first pilgrimage to Israel was in 2011 and indeed, it was a life-changing trip. When they say you will never read the Bible the same again … well, it’s true. Whenever I read the Scriptures the images from that trip rise from my memory and I am back walking through Hezekiah’s Tunnel or standing beside the Sea of Galilee or sitting on the Mount of Olives. I expect no less from this pilgrimage.
I’ve always wanted to return to Israel but opportunity and responsibilities never came together to permit it. Then, when watching an episode of The Chosen Jesus said to Matthew, Follow me. He didn’t have to ask twice. Matthew closed up shop and followed Jesus. That interaction prodded me to say “yes” to the invitation to join St. George’s pilgrimage to Israel. We leave tomorrow. Stay tuned.